TORONTO - The Toronto stock market was pulled down by lower commodities prices on Monday as concerns about the European economy returned to the forefront.
The S&P/TSX composite index moved back 70.06 points to 12,313.54. The TSX Venture Exchange fell 12.26 points to 1,333.46.
The Canadian dollar was 0.25 of a cent lower at 102.17 cents US. And both crude oil and gold prices lost ground, as questions about demand impacted prices.
November crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved down 96 cents to US$91.93 a barrel.
The December bullion contract decreased $13.40 to US$1,764.60 an ounce. December copper was off five cents to US$3.74 a pound.
The TSX gold sector was down with Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) dropping $1.17 to $40.45. Energy stocks were off 1.2 per cent, and Talisman Energy (TSX:TLM) fell 20 cents to $13.42.
Financials gained 0.4 per cent with Royal Bank (TSX:RY) up 32 cents to $56.17.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials dropped 20.55 points to 13,558.92. The Nasdaq composite index moved back 19.18 points to 3,160.78 and the S&P 500 index was 3.26 points lower to 1,456.89.
With little major economic data on the calendar this week, investors will likely return focus to Europe and whether Spain will tap a new European aid program. Also in focus will be the direction of the Chinese economy after data last week suggested further weakness.
In Germany, a business confidence index released Monday showed that the biggest European economy saw declines for the fifth straight month, surprising many economists.
The shine has been wearing off what has been an optimistic month for stock markets, characterized by an enthusiastic climb that defined much of the first half of September. The latest indicators, however, suggest the global economy is still slowing down and recovery will take time.
"I think we're seeing some of the risk factors that are prevailing in this market starting to emerge," said Craig Fehr, Canadian markets specialist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.
"The economic data is not coming in consistent to the upside or the downside right now. So it's a daily, weekly and monthly characterization that investors are having to make going forward."
Europe's debt crisis will remain a point of focus for investors. Spain is due to unveil a new series of cost-cutting measures and structural reforms that could pave the way for a demand for financial aid from its fellow eurozone countries.
Spanish stock and bond markets have been volatile in recent days as hopes that Madrid will apply for the aid alternated with concern that it was delaying the move.
On Friday, the country will also release a final estimate of the financing needs of its weakest banks. The figures will help the government determine how much of an existing €100 billion (US$130 billion) eurozone rescue loan — earmarked for the banks — it should use.
In corporate developments, Canaccord Financial Inc. (TSX:CF) is closing 16 branches of its wealth management firms across the country and reducing the number of advisors at the remaining Canadian locations, which will be concentrated in major cities. Shares of the company dropped 34 cents to $5.76.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (TSX:VRX) says it has paid $112.5 million to acquire the rights to Visudyne, a treatment for a common form of age-related blindness. Under the deal with Vancouver-based QLT Inc. (TSX:QLT), which developed Visudyne, Valeant could pay up to an additional $20 million. Valeant shares moved up 40 cents to $53.75. QLT shares were up 56 cents to $7.97.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSX:WJA) is adding British Airways to its list of code-share partners, which will allow its customers to book flights to several Canadian cities through the UK-based carrier. WestJet shares were down 19 cents to $17.17.
Hanfeng Evergreen Inc. (TSX:HF), a fertilizer company focused on China and other Pacific Rim countries, says it has taken a $10-million writedown to reflect the reduced value of its publicly-traded stock. The company, which has its Canadian head office in Toronto, said the writedown and other charges resulted in a loss of $2.5 million or four cents per share in its fiscal fourth quarter. Hanfeng shares were ahead three cents to $1.77.
The TMX Group Ltd. (TSX:X) says Alpha Group CEO Jos Schmitt and chief listings officer Randee Pavalow have resigned about six weeks after the rival exchanges were both acquired by a consortium of Canadian banks, pension funds and investment firms. A replacement for Schmitt will be announced prior to his departure. TMX shares fell 99 cents to $50.01.
In the U.S., shares of Apple Inc. were lower after sales of the new iPhone 5 missed analysts' expectations. The company sold five million units in three days. Shares (NASDAQ:AAPL) fell 1.3 per cent or $9.30 to $690.79.
And Facebook Inc.'s stock was lower after Andrew Bary at financial magazine Barron's said he thinks Facebook's stock is worth $15, well below its current price even with Monday's drop. Shares (NASDAQ:FB) dropped nine per cent or $2.07 to $20.79.